UWM’s Lubar Entrepreneurship Center names new director

Ilya Avdeev has been named the new director of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee’s Lubar Entrepreneurship Center (LEC).

Avdeev, an associate professor of mechanical engineering, previously served as the LEC’s director of innovation. He’ll continue leading the center’s mission of facilitating innovation and discovery for entrepreneurs, researchers and communities.

Ilya Avdeev

“The Lubar Entrepreneurship Center has been a key element in UWM’s innovation and entrepreneurship ecosystem,” UWM Chancellor Mark Mone said, “and I am pleased to see Professor Avdeev continue this important work.”

“I am excited to continue integrating innovation into a wide range of campus efforts,” Avdeev said, “and use creativity and design thinking as a method of exploration and experimentation that leads us to new discoveries.”

Avdeev joined UWM in 2009 as the founding director of the Advanced Manufacturing and Design Lab in the College of Engineering & Applied Science. While there, he led multiple research projects and secured more than $1.6 million in research funding.

In 2011, Avdeev secured a National Science Foundation Research Experience for Teachers grant, which promoted STEM education in Milwaukee and fostered K-12 partnerships through direct teacher training. In 2012, he co-founded the UWM Startup Challenge and UWM’s NSF I-Corps site, which became the regional I-Corps hub by 2015. He became the LEC’s associate director and director of innovation in 2018, and he’s led the development of foundational innovation curriculum and human-centered design at UWM.

“Professor Avdeev’s work in entrepreneurial and design thinking has helped shape programming at the Lubar Entrepreneurship Center,” said Brian Thompson, UWM’s chief innovation and partnership officer. “I look forward to his leadership in expanding the impact of the LEC.”

Since its inception in 2012, the LEC has guided 255 Startup Challenge teams and 390 Startup Challenge participants. It has trained 876 participants in Lean Launch methodology, seen 36 enterprises launched via NSF I-Corps, and helped facilitate raising $27.3 million in follow-on funding.

In the spring of 2019, the LEC celebrated a new home with the opening of the Lubar Entrepreneurship Center & UWM Welcome Center building. The facility has since become a popular gathering and instructional place for UWM students, faculty, staff and innovators throughout the wider community.

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